Reports claim Hamas-Israel exchange deal imminent

Published November 23rd, 2009 - 09:30 GMT

Hamas delegates from Damascus and the Gaza Strip headed to Cairo on Monday to debate a new prisoner list presented by Israel for an exchange which would see captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit freed after more than three years in captivity. A senior Hamas official in Gaza Strip, Ayman Taha, has confirmed that Hamas delegation would be going to Cairo to meet the German mediator and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.


Sources in Hamas have voiced their hope that a deal would be sealed by the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha on Friday. According to A-Risala website, which is close to Hamas,  the deal will be finalized only after the holiday.


On Sunday, several Arab and American news sources reported "significant" progress in negotiations.


In Israel, the military censor has slammed a gag order on official statements concerning the rumored deal. However, speaking after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo on Sunday, Israel's President Shimon Peres said that progress had been made on bringing Shalit home, but "the details must be kept behind the scenes."



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